Rough Numbers: $700 Million, 30 Percent

Lots of coverage of the CTU education vision proposal -- what do you think? -- along with contract negotiation news.  Too bad the coverage all focuses on the pricetag ($700M) of the CTU proposal, and the rumored salary increase request (30 percent).

Chicago teachers asking for 30% raises over next 2 years Tribune: The Chicago Teachers Union is asking for raises amounting to 30 percent over the next two years, the opening salvo in heated contract negotiations with school officials who are implementing a longer school day across Chicago Public Schools next schools.

Chicago Teachers Union Proposals WTTW: The Chicago Teachers Union slams Chicago Public Schools administrators, and offer their own vision for the school system, including $700 million more in funding. Paris Schutz has the story.

Teachers union calls for $713 million in CPS improvements Sun Times:The Chicago Teachers Union issued a searing critique Thursday of Chicago school spending and policies, calling for $713 million in improvements — including full-day kindergarten and lowering class sizes from a maximum of 28 students to 20 for younger kids.

Chicago Teachers Union offers blueprint for better schools WBEZ: The teachers union wants lower class sizes in kindergarten through 3rd grades, from the current 28 students per class down to 20. That would require 1,700 more teachers.

CTU’s New Tack: Here’s How We’d Improve Schools CNC:  Robert Bruno, director of the labor education program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said this is the first time the CTU has released a report of this kind during contract negotiations. The report was issued in a 44-page, colorfully illustrated glossy booklet.

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  • Here's what Rod Estvan posted as a comment on the CTU plan over at Catalyst:
    What I think about the CTU report

    The Chicago Teachers Union is to be commended for developing its proposal titled "The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve." I thought the strongest chapter of the proposal was the one titled "Chicago's Students Deserve Social Justice." There is very little in this chapter I would argue with, but I did wonder what CPS teachers who work at schools with the majority of students from higher income white families might think of it. At points the chapter becomes racially charged, but it's honest which I liked very much.

    The chapter concludes with this: "Merely equalizing resources between the children of the haves and have-nots is insufficient. Students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds require additional support services to supplement their learning and emotional growth." I guess the quantification of those "additional support services to supplement their learning," has been debated for years and limited agreement has been reached on the level of and extent of the supplement necessary to achieve a reasonable semblance of social equity. I wondered if CTU is here thinking about Harlem Children's zone on a mass scale with unionized public schools or what?

    The chapter "Chicago's Students Deserve Fully Funded Education," got to many critical issues and contained a radical critique of the current tax system for education. But it was disingenuous on a fundamental level, many of critical tax reforms the CTU plan calls for would violate Article IX section 3 (a) of the Illinois Constituion that reads: " A tax on or measured by income shall be at a non-graduated rate. At any one time there may be no more than one such tax imposed by the State for State purposes on individuals and one such tax so imposed on corporations. In any such tax imposed upon corporations the rate shall not exceed the rate imposed on individuals by more than a ratio of 8 to 5."

    So if the CTU is serious about taxing the rich, it must along with other unions work on getting a very major amendment to the Illinois Constitution. Unfortunately the consensus right now is that it would be impossible to get such an amendment passed in the state. Also the section on the TIF issue does not clarify that unallocated TIF funds do not reoccur each year and that this funding source is not sustainable to pay for the initiatives CTU has proposed for multiple years.

    Now to the problems with the report. The section on smaller class sizes was very interesting to me because as an advocate for students with disabilities to be educated to the maximum extent possible with their non-disabled peers class sizes are critical. But I thought the comparative example used of Matteson ESD 162's lower class size ratio to the CPS ratio was problematic. I do think Matteson is in many regards statistically similar to CPS, but it is the outcomes that I question. In this part of the report the CTU writes: " For example, in the Matteson School District southwest of Chicago, the average class sizes per grade for elementary and high school are between 16 and 23, with most classes below 20. Compared to CPS, 15% more students meet or exceed Illinois standards in Matteson."

    While it is true that overall Matteson's elementary school test scores are better than CPS for all students, they are virtually the same by eighth grade for students with disabilities. In 2011, 39.5% of Matteson eighth grade students with IEPs tested on the ISAT were able to read at state standards compared to 36.6% of CPS eighth students with IEPs. Using the NAEP data we find that both Matteson and CPS were only able to get exactly 9.9% of their eighth grade students with IEPs to read at the proficient or better level. Why with lower class sizes was Matteson just as bad as CPS in its special education outcomes when in both school districts the majority of disabled students are educated in regular classes for most of the day? Effectively both school districts are using failed models of special education instruction that are not working and are probably both under staffed.

    This takes me to my last point relating to the CTU's report discussion of special education on pages 19 and 20. While very few can argue with the idea that students with disabilities in Chicago could use more early intervention which the CTU calls for, the discussion does not seem to understand that in truth early special education intervention is really for our more disabled students, not for those with moderate to mild disabilities. The problem is in truth that the majority of disabled students cannot be appropriately identified in pre-school and kindergarten, because it is virtually impossible to separate these students from those students who are simply struggling learners. This identification dilemma applies generally whether a school district uses a response to intervention approach or a more traditional psychological testing approach to identification.

    In general the solution CTU presents for the current failure of CPS special education is effectively more staff and less paper work for special education teachers to do. More one on one aides, which the report calls for, are not likely to improve the pathetic reading outcomes for CPS students with IEPs where by grade 11 only 5.5% are reading at state standards. In fact one on one aides are not currently trained to remediate reading deficits for students with disabilities and only a small percentage of CPS special education teachers are also reading specialists. Clearly these aides are difficult to get for students and classrooms, but they won't solve the crisis CPS special education finds itself in.

    CPS like many other school districts has a bifurcated approach to instructing its students with disabilities. Approaches like co-teaching while far better than pull out services for the majority of moderate and mildly disabled students that attempt to merge general and special education are difficult to implement and staff intensive. If we are going to improve out comes for the majority of students with disabilities the special education system needs far more than just additional bodies, and I am not disagreeing that in very many cases schools are overwhelmed by the numbers of students with disabilities. We need to move towards universal design in education for the majority of students with disabilities.

    While the special education section of the report speaks a great truth on the difficult situation staff face in relation to students with more severe disabilities in terms of overall supports, it totally avoids the issue of transition services for these students that might allow them to prepare for some semblance of an independent existence after leaving the school system.

    In my opinion the CTU did public education in Chicago a great service by issuing this report. The union showed great courage in doing so. Whatever disagreements I might have with aspects of this report they are secondary to the admiration I have for the CTU in attempting to put forward a progressive vision of public education within the context of the conservative narrative relating to education we are bombarded with daily in America today.

    Rod Estvan (posted here by a district299reader)

  • Mayor Daley and now Rahm are unmasked on providing a fourth rate education in terms of resources and inept Clark St Administrators. It is time to tell the No Research Brizard to stop his Stepin Fetchit act and stand up to his masters. Brizard, are you willing to be your own man or a slave in master's quarters@

  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    Apparently Karen Lewis' declaration of a race war in her cynical little publication is having its intended effect. . . disgusting. . . and from so-called educators it's self-defeating -- it will only confirm the public's already dim view of public employee unions.

    I've had it . . . vouchers anyone?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "race war"?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Using the word "apartheid" in the summary of the recommendations showed in my view questionable political judgment.

    The report is politically tone deaf in other ways too. By my count six of the ten recommendations in the Executive Summary boil down to "hire more teachers", and the report proposes a massive new tax. Instead of writing a report that draws in independents (by that I mean voters who are neither reflexively pro-union nor the opposite), the report is likely to draw eye rolls by page 1. This is a shame, as there are some fine points in the report, such as the need for smaller class sizes.

    The report also fails to say anything about teacher evaluation systems, except a passing note that evaluations based on student test results are bad. I am not saying the CTU has to embrace teacher evaluation systems, but instead of getting in front of the issue, the CTU has ceded the playing field. Again, this will not play well to independents or key decision makers, the latter of which face evaluation in every aspect of their professional lives.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    CPS will have the longest school day and school year 8/2012; it DOES NOW AND will have the LARGEST CLASS SIZES IN THE NATION in ALL catagories, minority, white, low income, ELL, etc. CTU has every right to demand lower class size. And no one else, no one--stands up to Rahm for this. Imagine Rahms kids having these sizes at UCLab--intolerable!

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    It goes beyond the use of the word apatheid . . . whole swaths of the report talk about race as if Jean-Claude Brizard were intentionally harming black children and black teachers to help white students and white teachers. It was intentional race-baiting which resonated with at least one commenter and it's false, irresponsible and disgusting.

    The Board of Education did not cause the largely voluntary, economic and cultural thing CTU calls racial segregation and you'll note that CTU offers no cure for it (perhaps because it's not really something that -- in and of itself -- needs a cure). CTU's cure what it claims is a shift in the demographic characteristics of CPS teachers is to leave teachers in underpeforming schools alone (huh?).

    But CTU can't substantiate that the shift is as dramatic as it claims or that the current great reverse-migration might have some part in why there is a shift. CTU also conveniently ingores that CPS per pupil allocations are color-blind and the extent to which there is a disparity in resources among schools is because magnet schools get more positions and they were create to and have been marvelously successful at -- Guess what -- integrating, that is DE-segregating, at least some subset of schools.

    But refuting CTU's points here only underscores that the solution irresponsibly attributes racial motivations in an effort to stir up a nasty, race-based squabble. Pathetic.

  • Apparently the Board of Education has released CPS demands to the anti-Union, teacher-hating Chicago Tribune, and thence, to other news media. But the "facts" that are being reported, aren't really true.

    The Union is NOT asking for a 30% raise.

    The Board has asked teachers to work a school day that is 10.4% longer and a school year that is 5% longer than has been contractually required us since 2005. Naturally, the Union is asking for a 15% increase that is in line with the substantially increased hours teachers are being asked to work.  That is not a raise, but just compensation for altering the time requirements of our jobs.

    The Union is also asking for the 4% raise the Board withheld from us this year due to economic reasons. The predecessor Board promised us the 4% cost-of-living increase (btw, inflation for 2011 was 3%) which the current Board said it could not afford during the 2011-12 school year.  Surely that was a temporary measure.  It is, after all, the job of the Board of Education to finance the public schools.  Once they fulfill their duty, they must no doubt intend to reinstate the cost-of-living increase promised to us.

    And so, the CTU is really asking for a 5% raise for 2012-13, and another 5% raise for 2013-14.  Surely everyone understands that we are at the beginning of negotiations. There is a give-and-take nature to the negotiation process whereby neither party gets everything it wants.  Rather, the parties come to an agreement somewhere in the middle. Negotiations are risky that way.  What is certain is that if you don't ask for something, you won't get it.  So we've asked for 5% for each of the next two years.

    Perhaps I am too cynical, but I believe the Board of Education released the contract demands to the Press to embarrass the Union: "30% raises?  Is there no end to the greed of Chicago's teachers?"

    But we must not let them win the public relations war. The facts of the matter are not what they are being reported to be. We must correct that.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    The PR problem you have is that in 2012 the teachers make 100 and in 2013 they want 130, and you do the math and it sounds like a demand for a 30% raise. Maybe it isn't, but it took you 4 paragraphs to explain it and your critical audience has tuned out after the headline.

  • I do admire the pluckiness of the CTU in making the latest sensible proposals in light of the present financial climate. It is forcing us all to think seriously as to what it really takes to invest in our children, to invest in the future - our children are our seedcorn.

    I would like the union to continue developing ideas as to what works in the classroom. I am not sure the top down Central-Office-to-the-classroom approach is taking full advantage of what teachers know and can accomplish. If instead, the union was able to develop research-based methodology, propose implementation across the district, and to enforce and sustain the process going into the future, then I would think parents and community would support this wholeheartedly.

    It's important that the union enforce and sustain the process. This means that the union has to be able to work with all its members to maintain a proper level of performance. The union has to be more active in deciding whether a teacher should be in the classroom or not.

    It seems for all the degrees and national board certifications that our teachers earn, that these are ignored by administrators, who happen also have the same degrees and certifications. If indeed this additional training is useful, why would we need all these professional development days? This is maybe to say that Schools of Education (other than Harvard's) play a more prominent role in establishing educational policy than they do today. Why in the world is there a Broad Superintendent's School when we have so many existing SOE's? Perhaps the union would benefit by collaborating more openly and visibly with SOE's.

    Some of the money that the union could claim in financing the latest proposal could perhaps be in streamlining Central Office yet some more. It is difficult to trim down any more on the operational side, but the instructional side seems to have excesses. There seems to be a mindset that there has to be a blank slate when you are in instructional support. Even though a candidate is hired based on education, training, and experience, it is to be ignored, and is to be is backfilled with the district's idea as to what makes a good network chief, instructional support leader, etc. So if one eliminates the infrastructure of training the trainers of the trainers of the trainers, then there would some economies there.

    There, of course, has to be accountability. If the union continues its present apparent path on focusing on the children, and taking responsibility for it, then it seems it is best poised to lead reform in the district.

    That's why I think the union's proposal is reasonable, provided it takes on an even more active and responsible role in the outcomes of our children.

  • check out the audited financial report from FY11
    a general operating fund balance of $740 million or an increase of $316 million over the prior year.(p2)

    Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Year Ended June 30, 2011
    http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Financial_information/Documents/FY11_CAFR.pdf

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